Today's Top 5

White House Eyes Plan to Cut EPA By a Fifth, Eliminating Key Programs

The plan to slash EPA’s staff from its current level of 15,000 to 12,000 is one of several changes for which the new administration has asked agency staff for comment by close of business Wednesday. The proposal also dictates cutting the agency’s grants to states, including its air and water programs, by 30 percent, and eliminating 38 separate programs in their entirety. Programs designated for zero funding include grants to clean up brownfields, or abandoned industrial sites; a national electronic manifest system for hazardous waste; environmental justice programs; climate-change initiatives; and funding for native Alaskan villages. - Washington Post

Senate Confirms Ryan Zinke As Interior Secretary

Democrats were wary of Zinke despite his declaration that he believes humans contribute to climate change. “Man has had an influence,” he said under questioning by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Zinke’s assertion that the level of human contribution is unknown, despite the near unanimous opinions of climate scientists who say it’s overwhelming, didn’t help. Liberals worried that Zinke would open more land to exploitation at the expense of wildlife and their declining habitat. - Washington Post

Get Ready for the Trump Pipeline Boom

The rush to build massive pipelines began before the election of President Trump, spurred in part by Congress's repeal of a 40-year-old ban on oil exports in December 2015 (backed by then-President Barack Obama). Even before that decision, the United States was already the world's largest exporter of diesel, gasoline, and aviation fuel, and a net exporter of coal. With a glut of oil and gas discoveries in the Marcellus, Barnett, and Bakken shale formations, an increase in American large-scale fossil fuel production has long been in the works and is expected to flourish in the coming years. Pipeline construction will likely expand under President Trump's new infrastructure plan; maps of pending projects for crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids show just how extensive this development will be. - Mother Jones

Inside the Quest To Monitor Countries' CO2 Emissions

Nearly 200 nations pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement on climate change. But how will we know if some don’t follow through. The current inability to verify that a nation has made its promised carbon cuts remains a long-standing loophole that experts say must be closed to make the global pact effective. - Climatewire

Massive Permafrost Thaw In Canada Portends Huge Carbon Release

Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama. - InsideClimate News